Bend your knees. Keep your eyes on the ball. Turn your hips. Your knees. Hit with your left arm. Knees! Bend your knees. Left arm. Turn. Turn your hips!
Oh, dear, we are just in the first hole and already I’ve made my brother Duke’s blood boil. This is harder than it looks on TV.
But I am a dedicated learner. I already bought the proper cute attires and golf shoes. The spikes will keep me from slipping and falling on my face on muddy conditions. Because I plan to play even on muddy days. True golfers’ mantra: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. Though as Yoda would probably put it, cute attires and regulation shoes a golfer make do not.
Lee Trevino must have been talking about me when he said “My swing is so bad I look like a caveman killing his lunch.” And President Gerald Ford when he said “I know I am getting better at golf because I’m hitting fewer spectators.”
I borrowed my other brother Mel’s set of clubs. You just need three clubs for now, Duke said. But nooooo, I am a golfer. I want the whole set. At home I discovered a bag with 14 clubs is heavy. Now I just carry three clubs in my car — a 7-iron, a 1-wood and a putter.
I paid for two golf lessons and went to a driving range several times. The first lesson was just on the grip. The second was focused on stiffness — my stiff arms, stiff fingers, stiff hips, stiff knees, stiff chest, stiff shoulders, even stiff chin. And, oh yeah, my stiff head.
A man at the golfing range took pity on me and gave me a free lesson. I was so focused on my grip (and my stiffness) I did not notice him watching me.
When I finally looked up, I saw him shake his head at me. Wrong, he said. And to make his displeasure even clearer, he crossed his two arms in front of his face. He told me to swing my club naturally left to right. Practice that. Then swing it higher. Follow through pointing to direction of hole. Relax. (No mention of my stiffness, thank God.) Thank you, kind sir, for the free lesson.
My friend Paul Pineda, a multi-sport athlete, describes golf as the hardest sport to play. “In basketball, the rim is always the same height. In football, the goal posts don’t move. In golf you are hitting a small ball toward a small hole under conditions that are never the same. The golf course design, the wind and soil conditions, they all change. You can practice and practice. Then when you play, what you practiced may not work.”
“The more I practice, the luckier I get,” said Gary Player.
Arnold Palmer noted the paradoxes of this sport. “ Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented,” he said.
It’s anything but easy.
“For this game you need, above all things, to be in a tranquil frame of mind,” said Harry Vardon.
“Days when you don’t have it, you don’t pack it in, you give it everything you’ve got. You grind it out,” said Tiger Woods.
Peter Jacobsen said, “One of the most fascinating things about golf is how it reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you shoot - the next day you have to go back to the first tee and begin all over again and make yourself into something,” he said.
When Fred Couples designed a golf course in Cabo, Mexico his philosophy of design was “to have everyone stare at the ocean.”
Playing golf takes me outdoors, enjoying some of the most amazing views on earth. The beauty of Guam is a jewel set beautifully in its golf courses.
“It is almost impossible to remember how tragic a place this world is when one is playing golf,” said Irish writer Robert Lynd.
Billy Graham said the only place where his prayers are not answered is in the golf course. But he also said “I know the thrill of winning a golf match. But to me the biggest thrill is to win the big one - the spiritual battle of life.”
It will be Christmas soon. You will probably find me on the links during Christmas break, thanking God for golf, online teaching and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. “As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round,” said Ben Hogan.
Jeni Ann Flores is an educator, blogger and freelance writer. You may read more of her writing at https://teacherseditionflores.blogspot.com/. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org